what to do in Granada province

Overview

Granada is a great base for exploring some of the other delights of Andalucia. Where else can you have breakfast on your own terrace, spend the morning skiing, the afternoon at the beach and the evening eating magnificently in an excellent restaurant?

Some highlights are (times shown are by car):

  • The Costa Tropical and its beach resorts – 50 min
  • Guadix with its cave houses – 50 min
  • Sierra de Huetor and Sierra Nevada – 30 to 45 min
  • Europe’s southernmost ski resort with 5 months skiing p.a. – 45 min
  • The white villages of Las Alpujarras - from 45 min to 3 hours
  • Ronda – a picturesque town split by a dramatic gorge – 2 hrs
  • The Renaissance towns of Ubeda and Baeza – 2 hrs
  • Cordoba and its famous mosque – 2.5 hrs

Car hire is inexpensive and whilst not necessary for a break in Granada itself, a car is very useful for seeing the area around.

The Costa Tropical & the seaside

In under an hour you can be on the Costa Tropical, named after the exotic fruits like custard apples and mangoes that grow near Motril. Directly South of Granada are the appealing white painted beach towns of Salobrena and Almunecar.

Salobrena

The beach at Salobrena

The Moorish old town of Salobrena huddles on a rocky crag, reputedly a volcanic plug, topped by the Castillo Arabe, or Arab Castle, which has lovely views along the coast and back to the mountains. Similar views can be had from the Mirador on Paseo de las Flores below the castle. The historical quarter of the town is like a mini-Albayzin, with some interesting features such as La Boveda and the town prison (near the small museum), and narrow streets filled with flower displays.
At the foot of the outcrop and stretching along the beach is the more modern part of the town.

Granadinos enjoy a visit to one of Salobrena’s chiringuitos or beach-side restaurants specialising in fresh fish, sometimes grilled outside on a large barbeque or over a fire in a sandfilled dinghy. On Sundays in summer particularly, visiting these is a Spanish institution. It is therefore advisable to book a table on arrival, as at lunchtime, the beach will empty!

Almunecar

Almunecar is situated 15km further west. It has a long history as a Phoenician, then Roman, then Moorish settlement. Some feel for this is possible at the Museo Arqueologico and the Factoria de Salazones de Pescado where the Roman fish sauce garum was made in vast quantities to feed the empire.

Almunecar has a wide beachside promenade strangely reminiscent of British seaside resorts of the 1950s. A paseo along here interspersed with stops for ice cream and tapas with a visit to the castle, which has excellent views, makes for an appealing day out.

Apparently, the Roman name for Almunecar was “Sexi”, a fact made much use of on t-shirts available locally.

Guadix and the Troglodytes

Dog asleep in Guadix

About an hour from Granada by car or train, Guadix has a unique attraction, being famed for its cave houses, “cuevas”, many of which are still inhabited (there are an estimated 3000 troglodytes in TrogTown).

Guadix was built on the Roman Via Augusta. It has Arab historical remains and a large Renaissance cathedral (1510 to 1796). Impressive views of the arid arroyo country around can be had from vantage points within the town, and a glimpse into cave life can be had by visiting the museum. There is a bustling market on Saturday mornings.

Sierra de Huetor and Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada - near Boca de la PescaThe Sierra Nevada from the Sierra de Huetor

La Sierra de Huetor and the hills around Granada

The Carretera de Murcia continues past Casa de las Granadas, through El Fargue, and, in about half an hour, reaches the Sierra de Huetor (8 kms). This is a little visited area of Natural Park which has a number of beautiful sign-posted walks that are more often than not deserted.

Closer to hand, a short stroll from the front door leads through Sacromonte to the hills beyond, or over the river Darro and up to the Parque Periurbano above the Alhambra with cycle tracks, picnic spots and walks with lovely views of the mountains in all directions.

The Sierra Nevada

Granada is dominated by mainland Spain's highest mountain massif, the Sierra Nevada. It appears looming over the end of streets, forms a stunning backdrop to the Alhambra and, remarkably, is easily accessible for a day trip. For much of the year, the higher slopes are snow-covered, but during the heat of summer, a surprisingly cool day can be had at and around the ski resort, or away from lofty civilisation above Hoya de la Mora on the approaches to El Veleta and further afield.

Estacion de Esqui Sierra Nevada - The Sierra Nevada Ski Station & Resort

The Sierra Nevada mountain range forms a 75km long National Park and includes Mulhacen, the highest peak in mainland Spain at 3478 metres, as well as Europe’s most southerly ski resort. The Estacion de Esqui Sierra Nevada hosted the World Alpine Skiing championships in 1996 and holds a World Cup event every year.

The ski resort can easily be reached on a day trip from Casa de las Granadas, and skiing equipment can be hired from shops both on the way up and at the resort itself.

Other winter sports available are ice-skating, dog-sledding, snow-shoeing and tobogganing on giant inner tubes….! Cross-country skiing is available at the modest charge of 15 euros at Puerta de la Ragua, a mountain pass that gives access to the eastern end of Las Alpujarras.

The ski season normally lasts from December to late April.

Las Alpujarras

Traditional rugs for sale in Las AlpujarrasAbove Berchules in Las Alpujarras

This area of remote valleys and villages is located between the Costa Tropical and the Sierra Nevada and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Spain. From the tops of the mountains to the beaches of the coast is to be found the most diverse range of plants in the world fostered by the rapid changes in climate. It is an exceptional environment for hikers, cyclists and botanists and has interesting wildlife from ibex and wild boar to huge eagles.

Scattered throughout the area are beautiful mountain villages. A few examples are Lanjaron, a spa easily accessible from Granada and renowned for its thermal springs and mineral water, and further into the valley, the Poqueira ravine with its sparkling white villages Bubion, Pampaneira and Capileira clinging to the hillside. Further on, in another dramatic valley is Europe’s reportedly highest village, Trevelez, famous for providing the optimum environment for the production of dried ham. Further east villages like Berchules, Yegen and Valor are less touristy and, arguably, more appealing for that.

We know Las Alpujarras well and have lots of material available on the area. We are happy to provide advice on where to go, whether for a day trip, or alternatively, where to stay (also see the Two Centre Holidays section below).

Great Gorges

Cahorros GorgeThe swing bridge at CahorrosThe Taja at Ronda

With such magnificent mountain scenery around, it is perhaps not surprising that there are a number of gorges worthy of exploration.

Ronda

Ronda (about 2 hours from Granada) rightly attracts many visitors and has a good number of ex-pat residents because of its dramatic gorge which cuts the town in two.

Los Cahorros de Monachil

Los Cahorros is hidden away only 20 minutes from Granada. Within only a few minutes of leaving the built up area of Monachil you can be doing your best Indiana Jones impersonation crossing the swinging bridge or climbing through the gorge. You can either park a 5 or 10 minute walk from the gorge or alternatively take the scenic 5 km circular walk which brings you to the gorge from above.

Alhama de Granada

Alhama is like a mini Ronda. It too is perched beside a gorge or “tajo”, but is not touristy and makes a pleasant day trip from Granada. It is approximately an hour and a half away.

Alhama de Granada

The Renaissance Towns of Ubeda and Baeza

Ubeda and Baeza are to be found a few kilometres apart in Jaen province, about 2 hours from Granada by car. Both towns are full of beautiful, perfectly-preserved golden-stone Renaissance churches, palaces and civic buildings built by wealthy Castilian families in the 16th century. A stroll around the winding streets followed by a drink outside a bar in a gracious square makes for a memorable day.

Cordoba

The Cordoba Mesquita or mosque is a captivating building with its perfectly-proportioned courtyard with red and white columns and arches, amongst which has been set a vast Christian Cathedral. Cordoba is about 2 and a half hours drive from Granada and can be visited as a long day trip.

The mosque at Cordoba

Suggested Two-Centre Holidays

Sevilla

Despite its size and bustle, the Andalucian capital of Sevilla is a wonderfully laid-back city to wander around and bar crawl, particularly in the Barrio de Santa Cruz area, and in the trendy, up-and-coming area around Alameda de Hercules. Sevilla has, naturally, its own version of Andalucian culture and history to occupy tourists during the day.

Sevilla takes about 3 hours from Granada by car or train and trying to fit it into a day trip is not to be recommended. A much better idea would be to spend a few days at the end of your trip.

One place to stay that is highly recommended by lots of people, although we have never stayed there, is Hotel Simon www.hotelsimonsevilla.com. Sadly, we can’t particularly recommend any of the places that we have stayed. Whilst cheap and central they weren't anything special. We can provide details on request.

Las Alpujarras

A delightful few days can be spent in the tranquillity of Las Alpujarras (see Las Alpujarras section above), just relaxing or walking in the beautiful valleys below the peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

One good place to stay is El Paraje www.elparaje.com, just off the carretera between Juviles and Berchules. It has wonderful views over the valley floor to la Contraviesa from its terrace, excellent food and accommodation and friendly, helpful staff. It is very good value for money.

Cycling in Las Alpujarras

Another good two-centre option would be to combine a Granada break with some time being active in the mountains. We can recommend Pure Mountains www.puremountains.com who offer cycling breaks with qualified guides in Las Alpujarras.

Cazorla

Cazorla sits at the gateway to Spain’s largest natural park, the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas, and is an ideal base for exploring this area. Although it is possible to see a good deal of the park by public transport, much more can be achieved by car, as this is a vast, mountainous area. It makes a good contrast to Granada if you want to get away from it all.

Molino la Farraga www.molinolafarraga.com offers delightful accommodation, peaceful gardens and friendly, helpful staff.

Cazorla village

 

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